Galle Face Hotel

Historians, Imperialists and Well-heeled Globetrotters

PRICE: Punchy but doesn’t blow the budget

RATING: Wow factor

Four young investors set out on a mission to create ‘the finest hotel east of Suez’ and boy did they succeed. The Galle Face hotel, built in 1864, is the grand dame of luxury hotels in Colombo in Sri Lanka and her reputation stretches well beyond the shores she sits on.

Indeed, she is one of the most iconic colonial hotels in Asia and represents everything that was perfect about an era of grace, elegance and courtesy. Many legends have been told about The Galle Face and we’ve heard from reliable sources that each one that recounts her timeless grandeur and long tradition of first class hospitality are true.


The doors have recently been reopened after a five-year refurbishment. The marble-lined lobbies (there are two) are now splendid and the outdoor dining amongst the colonial columns at The Verandah is a fantastic experience. In fact, all of the dining experiences are superb, including by the seafront pool and in Restaurant 1864, one of Colombo’s few fine dining restaurants.

The rooms and suites in the refurbished wing are excellent. They have been thoughtfully reworked to create a sensational blend of classical style with modern amenities. The soft furnishings are rich with sumptuous upholstery and embellished with elegant scatter cushions.

As you would expect from a hotel of this stature, there is no shortage of history. Put aside half an hour to visit the hotel’s museum and a little longer to sit in the Traveller’s Bar, single malt in hand, and marvel at the photographs of generations of notables who have gone before you.

Or linger in the tranquil library, perhaps reading works by Arthur C. Clarke, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Noel Coward or Mark Twain, all of whom stayed at the Galle Face Hotel.

Yonder Insight

Take a walking tour around the hotel with the resident historian. You’ll get a fascinating insight into the rich past of this magnificent hotel.

On your doorstep

Order an Uber to take you to the Old Dutch Hospital. It’s a great place for dinner and at weekends there will almost certainly be live music in the bar at the back.

Thoughts on a postcard

In the Traveller’s Bar, we were invited to share a bottle of vintage champagne. Our host wanted us to help her celebrate 74 years since her father, a British army officer, was brought to The Galle Face to recuperate after escaping the Japanese during the Fall of Singapore.

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Galle Face Hotel: The Map



Former residence of the world's first female prime minister oozing elegance and style and now Colombo’s leading boutique hotel. The ten suites have four-posters and sumptuous bathrooms. Discrete service make these digs some of the sexiest in the Indian subcontinent